Jacob D Saddleworth in his seminal book “The Principles And Practices Of Pointlessness” stated that the abandonment of objectives need not necessarily lead to the rejection of purpose; especially in the context of linear progression. He used the memorable example of a river in its progress towards the ocean – an example I couldn’t help recalling yesterday in my efforts to trace Miss E Pascall. Like all good adventures, the starting point – can pointless activities have starting points? – of my quest was Wainhouse Tower in Halifax, and in this case, a 1904 postcard of the iconic folly. Pleasant as the view was, it was, as always, the reverse of the card that captured my attentions.
Emily was anxious to know if Miss E Pascall remembered Wainhouse Tower. Those who are not familiar with the town of Halifax may not appreciate the significance of such a question, but think of a visitor to New York being asked if they remember the Statue of Liberty, or a tourist in Athens being quizzed about a ruined building on the top of a hill. The obvious solution for a devotee of pointless activities, was to trace the descendants of Miss Pascall and ask them whether she ever talked with fondness about Wainhouse Tower.
And that is when things turned difficult. 155, Croydon Road, Anerley didn’t exist in the 1901 census, and by the time of the 1911 census, it was the home of the Wilson family and their servant, Ellen Payne. The fact that the card was addressed to “155a” suggests that it may have been the servant’s room in the attic or basement – one wouldn’t want the servant’s postcards getting mixed up with the upstairs mail! Was E Pascall the previous maid before Ellen Payne came along? Was she dismissed for endlessly going on about the charms of Wainhouse Tower? As yet, I don’t know – but this river of investigation is still making its way down to the sea of truth!